David Moyes’ Everton are on course to finish what could be called their best ever season in the Barclays Premier League. Already sitting extremely comfortably in sixth place, Everton are in prime position to make a late, remarkable charge for the dizzying heights of Champions League qualification.
Contrary to the prevalent view (I’d wager!), I adopt that said dizziness is very much within reach if one looks at the run-ins of the clubs in contention- keeping in mind that Tottenham and Chelsea are still in Europe; and Chelsea have the small matter of a cup replay with Man United to negotiate.
Everton have to play Stoke, QPR, Fulham and West Ham at home- and one would be hard-pressed to suggest they couldn’t chalk up a maximum 12 points from those. The away games will be crucial though and could deter their aspirations – considering four of those are at Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea.
But again- one would be hard-pressed to suggest they would lose all 4 games. If there’s one thing they’ve made clear this season, it’s that they rise to the occasion against the big teams- wins against Man United, Man City and Tottenham at home and a point at the Etihad (when City were at the zenith of their powers- well, this season anyway) elucidate that they are no push-overs.
However, even if it is a tepid culmination to what has been an extraordinary season in which David Moyes has demonstrated exemplary managerial acumen (on a shoe-string budget and with a limited squad, to boot!), they will have set a praiseworthy precedent for most other football clubs who, by comparison, would be severely guilty of fiscal profligacy.
Moyes has brought talent to Everton, groomed talent at Everton and successfully sold that talent- making a considerable profit for the cash-strapped Merseysiders for many years now. They have one of the best youth academies in the country- players like Wayne Rooney, Jack Rodwell and Leon Osman epitomize that.
But the thing that sets Everton apart is the tremendous passion and self-respect they hold as a football institution. Everton fans will simply NOT accept defeat. Whether they are playing Norwich, Stoke or Manchester United, they expect their team to go out and give everything they’ve got- irrespective of who the playing eleven are, where they’re playing or what competition they’re playing in. One need only look at the reaction to their FA Cup defeat to Liverpool in the semi-final last year to gauge the standards their fans expect- nay demand!
Whether such standards are reasonable to demand from a club in major financial distress is a debatable issue- for neutrals. Not for Evertonians. They staunchly- almost obstinately- think they SHOULD be competing for everything. This attitude of the fans makes life arduous for the manager- but frankly, it’s his fault!
David Moyes completed 11 years in charge of Everton F.C. this month- during which he has led them to an FA Cup Final, a top 4 finish with Champions League qualification in 2005 and has won the League Manager of the Year Award a joint record 3 times. The standards he’s set over the years have inculcated this demanding, passionate disposition in Everton fans- who are unequivocally and emphatically calling for a new contract for the Scotsman.
Moyes is almost synonymous with Everton- much like Ferguson with Manchester United. While Everton fans obviously want him to continue, they fear he may be lured away by promises of largesse and burgeoning talent elsewhere- Arsenal is the latest name in a series of clubs linked with David Moyes. However, he has always maintained that bounty would never draw him to any job opportunity- building a team, fostering chemistry and achieving success on a streamlined budget have now become his forte- and what better place than Everton to demonstrate that?
Whether he will leave is uncertain- what is certain is that his prowess has not gone unnoticed. Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho have all publicly recognized his capabilities and many clubs have approached Everton many times to acquire his services. This shouldn’t come as a surprise.
His teams are organized, efficient and uncompromising- they can take the game to anyone and they’ve proven that. I called this their best ever season at the start of this piece- and I stand by that even if they don’t finish in the top four. When you look at the amount Tottenham, Chelsea and even Arsenal have spent in the summer compared to Everton- and when you compare the sizes of their squads- a quarter-final in the FA Cup and a top 6 finish in the Premier League merits that accolade.
That said, I think there’s more for Everton fans to look forward to. If European commitments fatigue Chelsea and Spurs, and Arsenal go on a period of “Arsenal-ness” (They’re mighty capable, I’d say!), there could be yet more sunshine in Goodison Park and yet more plaudits for the Scotsman at the helm! Beware the Moyes Boys!